One of the many great things about Star Wars is the lore and world-building that has been expanded in TV series, comics, and novels. The most recent stories to enter the canon are the film Solo and its prequel YA novel Most Wanted, written brilliantly by Rae Carson.
The novel follows both a young Han and Qi’ra on an adventure through Corellia. Both are members of the White Worm Gang led by Lady Proxima, an untrustworthy leader who Han and Qi’ra have the misfortune of working under. She sends both characters on a separate assignment, which leads them to cross paths and go on the run from the Empire, White Worm Gang, and the Kaldana Syndicate (space pirates.)
I appreciate how this is a story about Han AND Qi’ra. One character doesn’t dominate the other and both of them need each other to survive. With them, is Tsuulo, a Rodian who helps Han & Qi’ra by using his tech skills. Each of these characters has a secret and along this journey we see them let their guard down with one another, opening themselves up and allowing emotions they haven’t felt in a while to take over them.
There are several other fascinating characters, such as Tool – a droid who uses metaphor and is in league with the Droid Gotra, a gang of droids wanting equality… sort of. There’s the mysterious Engineer who lives a life luxury, just wanting to find peace with herself, but the way she speaks about people seems a little concerning.
Interestingly enough, the novel doesn’t really have a main antagonist. There is the Kaldana Syndicate and the Empire, but there is no prominent character going after them. The underground world of crime syndicates is filled with characters just trying to survive. There is no good or bad to some of them, only survival.
The story is one big chase after an interesting McGuffin. There’s a fun street race and an exciting car chase sequence, which shows just how talented and knowledgeable Han is. There is some espionage that shows just how diplomatic Qi’ra is. For all the fun we have during the adventure, the best thing about it is its characters.
Originally I thought the novel would follow the two protagonists as they fall in love, but it’s actually a story of the two of them becoming friends first. Carson really takes time to develop the characters’ emotions on how they feel about one another. Nothing ever felt forced and the gradual development of their friendship is one of the many great things about the novel. This adds something extra to the film Solo, knowing more about their relationship and how strong of a bond both characters had, thus enhancing the film itself.
As with most of the other Star Wars content, the books need to be able to stand on their own, while also being able to expand on a character or setting. I am happy to say Most Wanted does that exceedingly well! Towards the end of the book, there is a conversation between Han & Qi’ra that perfectly shows why they’re different and why both characters go the path they go on in Solo.
You can read an excerpt from Star Wars: Most Wanted here.